As of 2015, 73% of adults in the U.S. are using social media. If your business is not active online, not only are you missing out on significant opportunities to grow your business, you’re failing to provide the customer service that consumers have come to expect. We’ll give you a minute to read more about why you should absolutely be using social media to better serve your clients…convinced now? Good. Now before you take off running, make sure you know these 10 commandments of social customer service.
Social customer service is easy. Start here:
1. Be where your customers are
Start by researching your target client and audience and determining which social platforms they are most likely to use. It would be a waste of time and effort to attempt to be plugged-in and attentive to every form of social media. You will be much more effective if you can tune into one or two platforms and use them well.
2. Use a monitoring tool
Use a social media monitoring tool to find out where your fans are talking about you. Tools like Social Mention, Hootsuite, or Google Alerts will let you know when someone has mentioned your brand without tagging your account. When someone mentions your brand, it’s an opportunity to engage, provide better customer support, and cultivate brand ambassadors.
3. Respond quickly
Social media is not a stand-in-line-and-take-a-ticket kind of customer service platform. 42% of consumers complaining on social media expect a 60-minute response time. Engage with requests quickly and win back customers.
4. Set expectations
If you can’t or don’t want to be available to respond to a tweet at 9pm at night, set up a few tools to communicate with your customers and let them know you’ll get back to them as soon as possible. Set your operating hours on your Facebook page. Consider creating a Twitter account specifically geared toward responding to customer service requests and use a program such as IFTTT to automate a response stating your customer service hours when someone sends you a message, uses a specific hashtag, or tags your Twitter handle.
5. Use a consistent voice
Your team will need to determine a few guidelines for interacting with customers on social media. As part of this exercise, you should identify a consistent voice and tone for your brand. Here is a great article FastCompany put together to get you started.
6. Provide direction
Another guideline your team should discuss is the step-by-step process of responding to a customer service request. Do you want to direct customers to someone on your client success team? When do you make the pass? These are questions you will want to have your team answer so you can establish an easy, repeatable process. Empower your team to engage in consistent social customer service to best serve clients and meet expectations.
7. Be proactive
If you’re experiencing a problem such as an overloaded website, an outage, or another crisis-type situation, reach out to your fans using social media and make them aware of the issue before they experience it. We recently had a situation in which a huge number of people flooded all channels in a 12-hour period with requests for one of our “Making Grumpy Old Bankers Even Grumpier” t-shirts (we give them out free to supporters, see the picture to the right), and we had to respond quickly. We posted to Twitter and Facebook to let people know we were out of stock, but would keep in touch when we placed a new order. People appreciate up-front communication and finding answers to their questions before they even have to ask. This is a big one in the best practices playbook for social customer service.
8. Own your mistakes
If you make a mistake on social media—own it. We love this story written by a HubSpot employee who accidently posted a photo of her baby bump on her company twitter. There will be times that something is posted accidently, a hashtag is misinterpreted and used incorrectly, or—gasp—you use “your” instead of “you’re” (ahem). As stated in the baby-bump post, technology is driven by humans and humans make mistakes. As long as you take ownership and respond appropriately, it won’t be the end of the world. It’s better to steer into the skid than to stick your head in the sand.
9. Provide updates
Make sure you stay connected with your clients by sharing news updates about your company. If you’ve brought a new person on a customer-facing team, introduce them via social media with a short, personable bio. If you’ve made recent updates to a product, create a video introduction of the new features and promote it to your customers. Be sure to provide them with a contact they can reach out to if they have further questions.
10. Promote your clients/customers
After all, what’s good for them is good for you. Use a social monitoring site to view news and updates from your clients. If you’re in a B2B business, share their wins and news on your social feeds to help increase their social reach. They’ll appreciate it. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, direct social engagement through social customer service will go far in delighting your customers and generating loyalty.
If you’re still not convinced on the relevance of social customer service or you simply want to learn more, check out this great article by Upwork. Best of luck! Feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions or comments using the comment box below.